ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Randal Falker had trouble finishing in the first 20 minutes. He kept going at the basket, though, and it paid off with repeated trips to the line.
Falker scored 21 points and No. 19 Southern Illinois dominated the second half in a 63-41 victory over Chattanooga in the opening round of the inaugural Anaheim Classic on Thursday.
Bryan Mullins added 10 points for the Salukis, who reached the round of 16 at the NCAA tournament last season. Falker and Mullins are among three returning starters from that team.
“Our older guys were very special,” SIU coach Chris Lowery said. “We totally dictated flow in the second half. Defensively we said, `We’re going to take away all their favorite things,’ and we did.”
Falker went 11-of-14 from the free-throw line after getting double-teamed inside.
“We wanted Randal to finish a little bit better, but when he goes to the free-throw line and does that, we’ll take it,” Lowery said.
Southern Illinois (2-0) advanced to Friday’s game against Mississippi State, which beat UC Irvine 68-53.
The Mocs (1-2) will play Irvine on Friday.
Stephen McDowell was the only player in double figures with 13 for Chattanooga, which fell to 2-12 on a neutral court against ranked opponents.
“We’ve played the No. 19 team in the country and the No. 8 team in the country (losing 99-79 to Indiana), so we’re not going to hang our heads,” Chattanooga coach John Shulman said.
Southern Illinois cruised in the second half after opening on a 22-9 run that ended with consecutive 3-pointers by Matt Shaw, who hit two, and Carlton Fay. It was the Salukis’ second straight blowout win, having beaten Northern Illinois by 20 points in their season opener.
“Our style is going to grind you,” Mullins said. “In the second half, I think they got tired of us trapping them. That makes us feel better.”
Chattanooga committed 26 turnovers, incurring chants of “Turn it over!” from Southern Illinois’ fans, who filled one seating section in the mostly empty arena across the street from Disneyland. Starting guard Kevin Bridgewaters had six turnovers and so did backup Keyron Sheard.
“Their defense is as sound and as good as anybody’s in America,” Shulman said. “It’s going to be good for us in the long run.”
Southern Illinois shot 50 percent from the floor in the second half and held the Mocs to 30 percent for the game. Chattanooga went 5-for-22 from 3-point range, with McDowell missing five of his eight attempts.
“We had six days to work on it,” Shulman said. “We wanted to invite the double-team and then get it out. We just couldn’t get the ball out.”
The Salukis opened the game on an 8-0 run while the Mocs turned the ball over on five straight possessions. But Chattanooga got untracked with 11 straight points to take its first lead 11-8.
From there, Southern Illinois outscored the Mocs 19-8 to close the half ahead 27-19. Falker had eight points and Mullins and Tony Boyle four each in the spurt that was keyed by Southern Illinois’ defense, which forced 15 turnovers by the Mocs.